Smokefree at the Lake takes aim at public smoking
LAKE OZARK - Smokefree at the Lake wants to eliminate smoking from bars and restaurants at the Lake of the Ozarks.
Smokefree at the Lake, which is a coalition of community members, hasn't received negative feedback from citizens or business owners.
"The majority of [local businesses] are smoke-free. So I don't think it will be that big of a deal," said Jill Wade, a member of Smokefree at the Lake. She said only a handful of businesses in Lake Ozark and Osage Beach still allow smoking.
"A lot of business is tourism. Most of the people coming here come from smoke-free areas. They go to the restaurants and bars that do not allow smoking because they have young children or they're older and they just don't like it," Wade said.
Leah Martin, a member of the coalition and the Director of Advocacy for the American Lung Association in Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska, said many tourists come from Illinois, Kansas, and Iowa which all have comprehensive smoking laws.
"Smoke-free is really the new norm," Martin said. Wade agreed, saying the communities at the Lake of the Ozarks were playing catch-up.
The coalition is currently focusing on eliminating smoking from Lake Ozark, Osage Beach, and Camdenton. She said the first step in the process is community support.
"We're seeing overwhelmingly community support," Wade said.
Martin said the tourists were also supportive in addition to the locals.
"[The second step] is to really support our restaurants and bars that have already gone smoke-free and get them on board to say this how it has affected my business," Wade said.
A study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the economic effect of smoke-free ordinances in 11 Missouri cities pointed in favor of the coalition's efforts.
The study concluded eight of the 11 cities saw an economic boost after the smoke-free ordinance went into effect. The remaining three saw no change.
"There's proof economically it works better," said Wade. In addition to helping business, Wade said smoke-free environments would benefit the young adult population at the Lake of the Ozarks.
"When you look at the restaurants down here...the bussers, the dishwashers, the waitresses are all young people, especially under 18," Wade said. "They're choosing not to smoke and yet they have to work in a place where there's smoke."
A Smokefree at the Lake pamphlet stated, "Nonsmokers exposed to any amount of secondhand smoke increase their risk of lung cancer by about 20 to 30 percent."
Wade said education plays a major role in the coalition's efforts since not everyone knows about the dangers of secondhand smoke and even thirdhand smoke, which is spread when smoke clings to clothes or upholstery. Coalition members hand out fliers at church events and football games in Camden, Miller, and Morgan counties to spread information about the harmful effects of smoking.
"Education is the biggest part of this. I don't want the education to end just because this passed," Wade said.
While no deadline has been set as to when the coalition would like to see smoking completely eliminated from the Lake of the Ozarks, Wade hopes the ban on smoking will help turn the tide against smoking in general.
"If it's so bad we're not allowing it inside, maybe you should think twice before you decide to join the habit," said Wade.